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White House to support drugstores and pharma in abortion pill battle.

Unnamed sources report White House discussions on supporting pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies in the ongoing legal battle over access to abortion pills.

By PinkeePublished about a year ago 3 min read

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, the White House is planning to resume discussions with abortion pill manufacturers and U.S. pharmacy chains on ways to push back against efforts to ban mifepristone, as it appeals a Texas court ruling suspending the approval of the drug.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk suspended approval of mifepristone, a medication used for medical abortions, which could make sales of the pill illegal in the US, while a legal challenge proceeds. A conflicting ruling from a Washington state judge blocks changes to pill sales in 17 states.

The White House is discussing offering legal support to manufacturers and retail pharmacies. Options being discussed include having the U.S. Department of Justice back legal challenges and provide legal advice on how to continue dispensing the pills. However, it is important to note that the White House does not direct the DOJ's litigation strategy, and the agency does not provide legal advice to private entities.

Major U.S. manufacturers of abortion pills include GenBioPro Inc and Danco Laboratories. Pharmacy chains dispensing such pills include Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, CVS Health Corp, and Rite Aid Corp. Walgreens announced in March that it would not dispense abortion pills in the 20 states where it risked breaking the law.

Discussions between the Biden administration and pill manufacturers and pharmacies over the issue have been ongoing for months, sources said, but Friday's decision brings fresh urgency.

The White House's Gender Policy Council, Inter Governmental Affairs, and the vice president's office have been holding strategy calls for nearly two months on how to make medical abortion available after the Texas judge ruled, anticipating Friday's outcome.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration made a regulatory change that made it possible for retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills in the country for the first time. Still, more than a dozen states have passed laws limiting such sales. There are no retail pharmacies that are currently certified to dispense mifepristone, and many are going through the certification process.

The Biden administration and advocates for abortion rights have criticized Judge Kacsmaryk's decision and pledged to fight it. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris said on Friday the administration will fight the Texas ruling.

"We're going to fight it. The Attorney General has announced @TheJusticeDept will file an appeal and seek an immediate stay of the decision," Biden tweeted.

The administration is seeking an emergency stay of Kacsmaryk's order from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The legal battle is likely to work through multiple levels of appeals courts over a period of months or years before it is resolved.

The path forward discussed during the White House strategy calls touched on how the DOJ will wait for a decision from the 5th Circuit, which has a conservative reputation. If it does not stay the ruling, the department will seek an expedited review by the Supreme Court, they said.

The Washington ruling gives the administration more time to respond legally to Texas's final decision. It could "expedite review of Texas, encourage an immediate stay on it and puts a huge question mark over it," one of the sources said.

Politically, the sources said, it makes it easier for the White House to make its case to the public that the FDA approval of the drug was accurate, mobilize activists and supporters to turn the issue into one that resonates with voters ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.

"There's a lot of legal analysis that needs to get done...about how these two orders interact," the senior administration official said.

Abortion is a highly politicized issue in the US, with Republicans often pushing for stricter abortion laws and Democrats advocating for increased access to abortion services. The recent court rulings and discussions surrounding the certification


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